A dark report on American attitudes

PRRI and the Brookings Institution released on June 23 the results of a survey on cultural change and immigration. The findings may be a roadmap for how Donald Trump could win in November.

For starters, 70% Americans continue to believe the U.S. is still in an economic recession. And, 51% of Americans report feeling somewhat or very worried that they or a member of their family will become a victim of terrorism.

Cultural decline

The general public is evenly divided over whether American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the better (49%) or changed for the worse (50%) since the 1950s.

More than two-thirds of Republicans (68%) and Donald Trump supporters (68%)—Republican and Republican-leaning independents who supported Trump during the primary—believe the American way of life has changed for the worse since the 1950s, while roughly the same number of Democrats (66%) say things have improved.

Opinions about immigration

A majority (55%) of Americans believe that the American way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence, while more than four in ten (44%) disagree.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Republicans and about eight in ten (83%) Trump supporters agree that the foreign influence over the American way of life needs to be curtailed, compared to approximately four in ten (41%) Democrats. Political independents’ attitudes mirror those of Americans overall.

Americans are split over how comfortable they feel around immigrants who do not speak English: half (50%) say that they are bothered when they come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, while nearly as many (49%) say this would not bother them.

Nearly six in ten (58%) white Americans say they are not comfortable being around immigrants who speak little or no English, compared to four in ten (40%) black Americans and under one-quarter (22%) of Hispanic Americans.

Roughly two-thirds (66%) of Republicans and 77% of Trump supporters express discomfort when coming into contact with immigrants who do not speak English, while nearly two-thirds (64%) of Democrats say this does not bother them.

Nearly six in ten (58%) seniors (age 65 and older) say they are bothered coming into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, compared to fewer than four in ten (37%) young adults (age 18-29).

Opinions about Islam

Approximately eight in ten Republicans (79%) and Trump supporters (83%) believe the values of Islam are at odds with the American way of life. This view is shared by a majority (54%) of independents and less than half (42%) of Democrats. A majority (55%) of Democrats say Islam does not conflict with American values.

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